Pennsylvania Bill to Allow Hunting With Blood-Trailing Dogs Stalls

Pennsylvania Bill to Allow Hunting With Blood-Trailing Dogs Stalls
According to a recent survey, 96% of Pennsylvania hunters support the legalization of leashed blood tracking dogs. Image courtesy Brad Fitzpatrick

It seems that hunters in Pennsylvania who want to have the right to hunt with blood-trailing dogs will have to wait'¦again. For the last 13 years Andy Bensing and other members of Deer Recovery of Pennsylvania have been pushing to legalize the use of leashed tracking dogs to recover wounded game, a practice that is legal in the surrounding states of New York, Ohio, and Maryland. Originally introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives as HB451, the bill passed with overwhelming support before moving to the senate. Once arriving at the senate, though, the bill stalled.

The state of the bill frustrates Bensing, who is also the head of the United Blood Trackers, an organization dedicated to supporting the use of blood trailing dogs to recover lost game. He says that the state's sportsmen want to see the bill passed.

"Our bill is supported by all the major sportsmen's organizations in the state and a recent survey reported that 96% of hunters in the state support the legalization of leashed blood tracking dogs," Bensing says.

When I contacted Senator Richard Alloway, Chairman of the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee, he says that the bill was tabled because there simply wasn't enough detail to garner a passing vote. Bensing disagrees.

"We have attempted every time to educate the senators in advance about blood tracking dogs and how they are used but it has been to no avail to this point," says Bensing. "We meet with them or their assistants, send them packets of information and  offer to answer any questions or concerns they may have but every time a tracking bill comes up in their committee they table it and say they need more clarification.  They have made that same statement now 3 times in the last 18 months at committee meetings."

Despite the differences of opinion regarding the level of detail in the bill, there may yet be some hope that the legalization of blood tracking with dogs will occur in the near future. Senator Alloway says that he is pushing for a hearing on the bill this spring. Bensing also sees hope in the future.

"We did make a little progress at this last meeting in that they agreed to hold an informational public hearing on our bill early next year to gather more information."

Utilizing dogs to track wounded game is a practice that dates back thousands of years, and currently the use of blood tracking dogs for the recovery of lost and wounded game is legal in over two-thirds of U.S. states. Rules vary from one state to the next; in many Midwestern states dogs are required to work on a leash, while several southern states allow the use of free-ranging dogs to recover game. For now, Pennsylvania remains one of the states where blood trailing with dogs is illegal, but there are several sportsmen that hope to see that change in 2014.

Do you think hunters should be allowed to use blood-trailing dogs? Share your opinion with us in the comments!

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